PMB Collegians run Premier Division Jaguars close

2010-09-02 00:00

IT was another case of so near yet so far for KZN First Division south section winners Maritzburg Collegians in the semi-finals of the Junior Murray Cup at the weekend.

Collegians were beaten 31-28 by Jaguars at Capel Road in Sydenham — and it is the second time they have given a Premier Division club a serious run for their money.

A few weeks ago, Collegians were within 10 to 15 minutes of upsetting Maritzburg Varsity in the double-header PMB Cup final and Castle Murray Cup last-16 clash.

Against Jaguars, had it not been for Collegians going walkabout in the first 10 minutes — an extremely unusual occurrence for the red, white and blacks this season — they would have won the match and qualified for the title showdown. As it happened, Collegians were down 19-0 within those first 10 minutes and had to play catch-up rugby for the next 70.

Inspirational captain, hooker and ball-carrier Charl Bezuidenhout was injured, and the pack struggled to get go-forward ball. However, stand-in captain Blake Kyd lock Jap Stewart and the man of the match, number eight Justin Smith, stood out.

The young Collegians backline dropped passes and took wrong options at crucial times, costing them dearly. And had Collegians been able to field a full-strength side, it could have been a better result.

It is clear this young side have the drive and talent to develop into a very good team next season, if the club can retain the current players and build their player base.

There are some very exciting players who need more experience at First Division level. However, now that they have learned to win and are clearly a happy team, they can only go from strength to strength.

Despite these outstanding results against Premier Division teams, whether the club is ready for that level of rugby is debatable, as 14 matches against opposition that are a step ahead in player depth and experience can make for a long season.

The physicality and speed of Premier Division rugby are a lot more intense than First Division rugby and although Collegians more than matched Jaguars and Varsity in that department, to sustain that sort of performance over a six-month season requires a squad of 30-plus players capable of churning it out week after week.

The plus side for Collegians coach Rinier Bosman and the team is that they have set an admirable standard and the challenge now is to take it to the next level in 2011. Indeed, the six months leading up to next season’s start are crucial in terms of building the players’ strength and physical conditioning. It is a pivotal moment in a club that is over 100 years old.

The supremely dedicated Collegians chairperson, Tony Day, has re­surrected this club from certain oblivion. He has developed a strong relationship with sponsors Rica (Gestetner) and Central Waste, and if his committee and players can get their ducks in a row the rugby public in the KZN capital can look forward to Collegians playing Premier Division rugby in 2012.

Saturday’s Castle Murray Cup final takes place at 2.30 pm on Ranleigh Crescent club Crusaders’ main field and will be between Premier Division champions and reigning Murray Cup holders College Rovers and Old Boys.

Old Boys upset Premier Division runners-up Durban Collegians in a controversial semi-final clash that had a number of spectators up in arms over several refereeing decisions at the end.

It will be an action replay of last year’s final, and rank underdogs Old Boys, who finished fourth in the Premier Division, could run Rovers down to the wire, as the defending champions have lost several star players to the Griquas Currie Cup franchise.

In the semi-finals of the Starlite Aviation U19 Cup, Midlands went down 36-17 to Harlequins while Durban Collegians shaded Old Boys 14-10.

RESULTS

Castle Murray Cup semi-finals: Rovers 19 Crusaders 16; Old Boys 18 Durban Collegians 16. Junior Murray Cup semi-finals: Jaguars 31 PMB Collegians 28; Vryheid 24 Piet Retief 17. Starlite Aviation Cup semi-finals: Quins 36 Midlands 17; D Coll 14 Old Boys 10.

CUP FINALS At Crusaders Saturday - Castle Murray Cup: Rovers vs Old Boys (2.30 pm); Junior Murray Cup: Jaguars vs Vryheid (12:50 pm); Premier Reserves: Rovers II vs D Coll II; 3rd Division: Richards Bay vs Kapaailand (12:50 pm); First Div Reserves: Toti II vs Vryheid II (11:15 am); Starlite U19 Trophy: Harlequins vs D Coll (10: am).

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